Last post was a big wall of text, so this update is about art!
I'm going to chat a little bit about art inspiration!
When I make games, I set out to make ones that instill a sense of happiness in players; happiness through discovery, interaction with characters, and through the style of the art used. I'm tired of grey-brown, gritty and realistic. When working on this project I wanted to bring colour back. I'm striving after a cosy feeling; the feeling of long summers days when you were a child, the warm, almost mystical feeling of the world around you.
I'm a big fan of children's book illustrations, their often soft, watercolour nature; I think they fit with the feeling I'm after with the project. Translating the feeling into CG is going to be tricky!
A big inspiration for me has been the work of Dice Tsutsumi.
The work he's done for Pixar has a wonderful way of capturing the lighting in a scene in an almost exaggerated way. The work on Monsters University (above) has a real vibrance and warmth to it that I would love to try and capture in the game. He also made a short animated film which has quite possibly been the biggest source of inspiration for me for this project.
The short is called Dam Keeper (I'd highly recommend watching it!) Dice's capture of light comes through strongly in the animation, and it combines the softer feel I'm after with its brushstrokes.
The short also features animals as the main characters. I've contemplated having humans, monsters or animals for the villagers that live in your town, and have decided that animals fit best with the feeling I'm after. Animals keep their cuteness and playful nature, and I think there's something inherently nice with interacting with animals in both the real and virtual world. Having humans or monsters (think Monsters Inc) would, although being different, not manage to keep a cute, enjoyable interaction going in the game I don't think. We're too used to humans and their flaws; and monsters would require a bit more time investment I think before players would get as much of a connection (if possible) as they would with animal characters.
It goes without saying that Animal Crossing has also played a big roll in the formation of the game. It's cute, colourful and playful style make the world immediately appealing, and although depicting somewhat a realistic "life" (paying loans, decorating, interacting with characters) it presents them in such a way that they are rewarding to interact with. I'd like to capture some of this in my game.
I feel though, that Animal Crossing goes too far in the cartoony/silly direction, and in this project I'm going to try and hit a spot hopefully somewhere in the middle, that captures the essence of the soft, warm illustration and brings an element of silliness and fun to it.
So there you go! A rough run-through of my thoughts about the art style for the game. I've done a few experiments and tried out some ideas that I'm going to share a bit later on in another update.
Thanks for reading!